Yoga for sportspeople – general introductionWhy, as a sportsperson, and presumably already reasonably healthy and fit, would you want to include yoga in your programme? Here are some reasons:
Effective injury prevention. Comprehensive stretching and warming up prepares the body for more rigorous training, and ensures a good supply of blood to the muscles. Paying attention through breath awareness decreases the likelihood of sudden movements, which can lead to muscle contraction and/or overloading joints.
Developing increased mindfulness during practise, rehearsal and play brings significant improvements. It is well-documented that visualisation and focus on the moment to moment activity increases the ability of the body and mind to respond to and benefit from the practise. (It has proved to be hugely more effective than, for example, watching tv while mindlessly working on the treadmill).
Focus on stretching, particularly passive and isometric stretches, allows more time and mental space for the body to lengthen – many sportspeople focus so much on pushing that they will limit the muscular reach more than if they learn to relax into stretches.
Working movement with the breath will open up a whole, new range of possibilities where it is not usually connected. Working specific positions on the inhalation and exhalation will deepen the body’s response.
Introducing the bandhas will help with focusing the bodies’ energy, increase lift in the body and maintain internal support to assist external movement.
Understanding that overdoing training can be a waste of energy, create unnecessary pressure on the joints and create long term problems.
Yoga can encourage a complementary approach to those with a competitive drive, helping people to work with their bodies and listen to them. This increased feedback will allow better communication, so there is increased ‘early warning’ of injury or ill health. It will also encourage a more compassionate attitude to the body which will reap dividends, rather than treating the body like an old work horse with all the attendant dangers of exhaustion and burn out.